Faith Column: Be the light in someone's life
Matthew 25 reminds us that we encounter Christ in the neighbors around us, especially people who are experiencing needs.
WORTHINGTON — Think for a minute about your cherished ministries of your congregation. Bible studies. Quilting groups. Youth programs. Worship. Small groups. Musical ministries.
Did Love INC come to mind? If it did not, I encourage you to reflect on that. Eighteen congregations in our community are member congregations of Love INC.
Love INC is a national organization whose mission is “…to mobilize local churches to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ.” Their vision is “…to see Christian churches united in purpose and fully engaged in actively living out their faith by lovingly serving people in need in their communities.”
There are over 100 Love INC affiliates nationwide. Each affiliate operates differently, responding to the specific needs and realities of a community but all adhering to the same overall mission and vision.
It’s easy to think of Love INC as a separate ministry that exists “out there.” It’s easy to think of it as something our congregations can choose to participate in when convenient or when we are interested in doing so. But, Love INC is YOUR ministry. It’s a ministry of the member congregations just as much as all the other activities of your congregation are your ministries. The staff and board of Love INC exist to support and coordinate your efforts as you use your gifts, talents and resources to serve your neighbors in need.
I am finishing my second (and last) term on Love INC’s board. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to serve in this capacity. I learned a great deal from staff, volunteers and other board members. It was an excellent way to get to know people I might not have otherwise met.
Matthew 25 reminds us that we encounter Christ in the neighbors around us, especially people who are experiencing needs. During my time serving as a volunteer intake worker, inspecting houses (so they’d be ready for deliveries), providing rides and serving with First Lutheran’s donated furniture delivery team, I definitely found this to be true.
I know I encountered Christ in the clients I met through Love INC. I was deeply moved by the hardships many clients faced, and I was inspired by their resilience. I was encouraged by their gratitude.
Yes, as a volunteer, there are often challenging moments, and not all clients’ needs are easy to meet, but we know we always encounter Christ in those interactions.
If you have not volunteered with Love INC, I encourage you to do so. Here are some ways you can be involved:
Volunteer Driver: Love INC is in great need of volunteer drivers to provide rides for clients (primarily for medical appointments). Since the organization tries to pair people of the same gender for trips, women drivers are particularly needed. People can provide rides outside town or only in town. They can decline any rides that they do not feel comfortable offering or cannot provide. People can offer availability as often or as seldom as they desire.
Clearing House Intake Volunteer: When clients call Love INC for assistance, Clearing House volunteers return calls to those individuals. While doing so, they ask questions to get to know the clients better, learn about their life circumstances, clarify the areas of need and discern if there are other ways Love INC could support them.
House Inspectors: These individuals help ensure that the homeowners who will be receiving furniture have a space cleared for the items. They assess if there are challenging stairways or corners that might make it hard for volunteers to deliver items. They also communicate with staff about the amount of space that is available for the donated items. This reduces the number of challenges for the furniture moving teams and possible disappointments for people hoping for certain items.
Board members: We are always looking for board members. Among other activities, board members help plan fundraisers and events that create awareness about the work of Love INC. They offer insights and support to staff, volunteers and clients alike. In addition, they help ensure Love INC follows organizational procedures and protocol. Finally, board members guide Love INC as it discerns how to best live out its mission to actively demonstrate Christ’s love in our community.
Please visit us at the Love INC light display Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 at Olson Park. The display will be open from 5 to 9 each evening.
May Christ fill your hearts with gratitude and joy this Advent season. May we share our abundant blessings with those around us through Love INC and in every way we can.
Rev. Jeanette McCormick is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Worthington and Grace Lutheran Church in rural Round Lake.